Leading computer scientists have said that the £6.2bn upgrade of the NHS IT system has to be thoroughly investigated before approving it. Computer Weekly magazine said that the group of academics are questioning if the plan is foolproof.
The government responded by saying that the plan was under a "constant review" and was "resilient". The 10-year IT programme envisages linking more than 30,000 GPs in England to almost 300 hospitals by 2012. However the experts say that this means that the system will have to support a huge volume of data. "Concrete, objective information about NPfIT's progress is not available to external observers. Reliable sources within NPfIT have raised concerns about the technology itself," the academics tell the MPs in their letter. "We propose that the Health Select Committee help resolve uncertainty about NPfIT by asking the government to commission an independent technical assessment with all possible speed." It has emerged that Oxford's Nuffield Orthopedic Centre had major problems when it chose to upgrade with some patients' records being lost in the system. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that the government was confident of implementing the program, "We remain confident that the technical architecture of the national programme is appropriate and will enable benefits to be delivered for patients, while ensuring value for money to the taxpayer."